Odette Placido is a Victorian-based artist, who studied calligraphy and portraiture as her arts practice, until she was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder in August, 2019. Since then she has had to stop calligraphy but continues with portraiture and sketching. Here she uses a time-lapse vimeo recording to create a new work.


My journey with Art has always been there. Since I was young, I’ve always been inclined to be creative and just fascinated with drawing and creating. I became more fascinated with the creation of letterforms and calligraphy and started to study it in 2017. I studied copperplate for a while under amazing teachers, who I still look up to and am still inspired by today. 

Calligraphy sample chosen by artist

Unfortunately, I became suddenly sick in August 2019 with Functional Neurological Disorder, which is a Neurological Disorder. Physically I am okay, but my central nervous system is affected. Because it affects the Central Nervous system, which controls a lot of functions of the body, it has so many symptoms under one umbrella. It’s not all the same for everyone but it has a combination of symptoms of fibromyalgia, MS, Stroke, Dementia, Parkinson’s, Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Pain all at once. Everyone experiences it differently in its severity and it’s quite erratic.  Consequently, my ability to do calligraphy has been severely limited, due to tremors and poor vision. However, as they say, as one door closes another door opens. 

Prior to becoming sick, I was also creating portraits and picking up drawing/sketching/portraiture after a very long hiatus. I started to learn new ways to express myself; to create art on paper and digitally, so to speak. I wanted to be able to capture moments and create them as well and also evoke emotions through my portraits and my art generally. To make my work not just appealing or to be somewhat attractive but to have some sort of meaning or generate an emotion/ reaction that comes with each piece. This is still very important to me right now, as I progress my learning in my journey as an artist. I hope I never stop learning, as it enriches my art and experience and creative growth.

As I became unwell during my therapy and rehabilitation, one thing that has been often told to me is to meditate and rest. Find some calm and peace of mind to relieve stress, as it can affect my condition. I found that my art was my form of meditation and also my stress relief. It was also my one thing that I could do whilst incapacitated and so physically limited. In that aspect, whilst I was limited in so many things, being able to do art was also freeing for me. For my creativity and imagination there are no limitations on what was possible. Whilst I am still restricted physically, it feels that I have the freedom to simply be, when I’m in the creative zone. No restrictions whatsoever.

In a way Art and creating have shaped my way of healing. The way that I colour in painting is very much influenced by how I’m feeling at the particular time. And when someone asks me to draw a portrait for them, I am more than happy to do it. It is meaningful for them and it is an honour to create for them.

Odette Placido

I have started to paint again recently; apart from portraiture, it is another form of expression that I truly relish. On a daily basis I now lose my ability to talk, sometimes walk, or communicate how or what I truly want to say. My art is one way of communicating to those, who can see what I would like to convey. I worry as I don’t know what this condition is going to do to me in the years ahead, but the imprint that I want to continue to leave is the beauty that I see in life around me. I would even like to put on a show, if it is a little one. I may not be able to speak at times, but through a brush stroke, be it a portrait done with love and care for a memory, or through a painting with abstract flowers done with life, colour, texture and energy.   

I would like people who get to know me and my work to know that you always have a voice when you don’t, that you can always help someone in some way (for me this is with my portraits or a painting) and you can always create in some way or form when you feel like you can’t. 


More of Odette’s work can be found at https://www.instagram.com/odettecreates/

Feature Image: ‘Art and my FND’ (2020), water colour on paper.
Images supplied by the artist.  Curation by Dr Linden Wilkinson.